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Transformation Garden – September 15, 2020

Todays Text and Thought of Encouragement:

Now faith is the assurance, the title deed, of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

Hebrews 11: 1

Amplified Bible

Wherein lies the secret strength of faith? It lies in the food it feeds on; for faith studies what the promise is an emanation of divine grace, an overflowing of the great heart of God; and faith says, My God could not have given this promise, except from love and grace; therefore it is quite certain His Word will be fulfilled. Then faith thinketh, Who gave this promise? It considereth not so much its greatness as, Who is the author of it? (Faith) remembers that it is God who cannot lie God omnipotent, God immutable; and therefore concludeth that the promise must be fulfilled and forward (our faith) advances in this firm conviction. Faith remembereth why the promise was given  – namely for Gods glory, and faith feels perfectly sure that Gods glory is safe, the (God) will never stain His own (shielded name), nor mar the luster of His own crown; and therefore the promise must and will stand.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Morning By Morning

For as many are the promises of God, they all find their Yes (answer) in Christ. For this reason we also utter the Amen to God through Him in His Person and by His agency to the glory of God.

II Corinthians 1: 20

Amplified Bible

 

Todays Study Text:

The Lord said to Samuel, Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

I Samuel 16: 7

N.R.S.V.

EXPLORATION:

The Furnace of Affliction: – Part 7

A Decisive Test of Character

True Greatness

Were I so tall to reach the pole,

Or grasp the ocean with my span,

I must be measured by my soul;

The minds the standard of the man?

Issac Watts

1674-1748

How do I think I would have acted had I been taken to a country where no one knew me and I was free to do whatever I wanted to do?

When I think about the word character what comes to my mind?

What lies beyond us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

INSPIRATION:

Character may be manufactured in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.

Phillip Brooks

Definition of Character: Moral and ethical strength and integrity.

RESOLVED: To live with all my might while I do live. Resolved never to lose one moment of time, to improve it in the most profitable way I can. Resolved never to do anything which I should despise or think meanly in another. Resolved never to do anything out of revenge. Resolved never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

Lord Arthur James Balfour

For a moment, I invite you to think about the many events that have made up your life to this very day in time. I ask you, Is there some specific day or event that really stands out? Is there a particular decision which, looking back upon, you realize how much it changed your life?

Just this last week, my college roommate and I were having one of our marathon phone calls when we began to reminisce about our junior year in college. We chose to attend a college in Washington State, a long way from home for two California girls. As we talked, I was reminded of a specific day when my greatly admired English teacher literally begged me to switch my college major to English. I was already a Registered Nurse and had nursing licenses in California, Arizona and Washington so it wasnt like I didnt have a good profession to fall back on. And at only 20 years of age, I had a lot of life before me. My teacher even offered to take me on as his teaching assistant a job I know I would have loved.

To be honest, I did consider his input but chose instead to plow ahead with plans that I felt I couldnt disrupt, only to find out a few months later what a bad decision I had made. As Shari and I agreed, you learn from your mistakes to move on if you are going to get anywhere in your life, but sometimes you cant help but ask yourself, What if my choice had been different at that juncture in my life? As many authors note, it is from our daily decisions that we forge our future. But even more importantly, it is often the seemingly small choices we make each day, that actually form our character which reflects the moral strength and integrity of our life.

It is this thought which is the foundation for todays devotional where we are going to reflect on a decision made by the four young lads who arrived in Babylon as wards of King Nebuchadnezzar. These well-bred boys were what we might refer to as the Trophies of the conqueror. As the Bible relates what happened, it makes me wonder if quite possibly the Babylonian king hadnt had other young Israelites serving him so he knew the potential these young boys, when properly trained, could provide. Or another idea that crossed my mind came from the prostitute Rahab in Jericho who testified on behalf of the God of heaven and earth to the two spies who came to her seeking protection. By watching how Gods leading had benefited His children as they crossed the desert, this woman didnt just become convinced that the Ruler of the Universe was our Almighty God she became converted. She was a more faithful believer than some of Gods chosen children in the Israelite camp. Like Rahab, King Nebuchadnezzar may have also been a witness to some of the blessings showered by God on His Chosen people. And thus, he thought that having some of the Chosen giving him advice would really be to his political advantage.

And so as our story begins today, King Nebuchadnezzar continued his de-programming plan, thinking that with a luxurious life-style and daily instruction as well as new Babylonian names, he could cleanse from the lives of these captives any devotion to their God while swinging them over to the Babylonian worship of idols.

Just so we understand how intent the king was with this project, he gave the four captives what Im certain he deemed to be the greatest of honors they were to eat of King Nebuchadnezzars rich and dainty food and drink the wine which he (the king) drank (Daniel 1: 8, Amplified Bible). This must have appeared to be a great honor when you consider that these young men could have been treated in an extremely harsh manner as slaves. And yet, here they were feasting on kingly fancy food!

What happens next is recorded in Daniel 1: 8 where Daniel writes, But Daniel determined in his heart he would not defile himself by eating his portion of the kings rich and dainty food or by drinking the wine which he drank (Daniel 1: 8, AMP). This could almost appear to be an affront to the king. But heres where Gods blessings upon His childrens lives come into clear vision. If we continue to read, the Scripture tells us that Daniel went to the head of the palace staff, who by Gods grace or as the N.I.V. Bible states, because God had caused the official to show favor and sympathy to Daniel, listened to Daniels idea. Daniel asked that he and his three friends be allowed to just eat vegetables and drink water.

Of course, the palace official didnt often hear a request like this and so it took him by surprise. Whats more, he immediately recognized that this simple diet would not fatten-up these boys. In fact, the officials fear was that the boys would lose weight and look like skinny bean-stalks and the king would notice and explode in fury at the person who allowed them to con him into eating so simply.

But heres where we find that heavenly wisdom is something we should pray for every dayeven doubly so when we face difficult and perplexing times. I especially like the words in Proverbs 15: 21 Folly is pleasure to the one who is without heart and sense, but a man or woman of understanding, of wisdom, walks uprightly, making straight their course. I can relate to the texts in the Bible that encourage us as children of God to ask for wisdom. I wasnt by far the smartest kid in school. There were many who were sharper and brighter. But I studied diligently. And Ill never forget my parents saying, Dorothy, you have studied hard for this test, now ask God to bring to your remembrance all you have learned and ask Him to give you wisdom. Ill just say that God didnt let me down for all of my tuition in college was paid for by scholarships I received because of grades that reflected Gods answer to my prayers as I studied.

Heres where I believe Daniels heavenly wisdom was on display for he didnt demand an accommodation to their dietary requirements without offering a well-thought-out plan devised to take the palace official off the hook. Daniels suggestion was this: Try us out for ten days on a simple diet of vegetables and water. Then compare us with the men who eat from the royal menu. Make your decision on the basis of what you see. So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days (Daniel 1: 12-14, N.I.V. and The Message Bible).

Guess what? At the end of the ten days, Gods young stalwarts looked healthier and more robust and well-nourished than any of the men who ate the royal food! So the official gave them vegetables and water food we are now recommended to eat because we know it helps us keep our weight under control and can assist in the prevention of heart disease and diabetes which can lead to a host of other problems. But this isnt the end of this particular story, for Daniel 1: 18 states that, At the end of the time set by the king to bring them in, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. (And I want you to notice something very important in Daniel 1: 19. When writing the book of Daniel, this prophet of the Mighty God, Jehovah, didnt use some heathen name bestowed upon him by a king of earth. No way! He and his friends were children of the Most High God, Daniel God is my Judge; Hananiah The grace of the Lord; Mishael – He that is strong God; Azariah The Lord is a help.) I believe their God-inspired names never meant more to them than when they sat down to eat the vegetables on their plates and drink the water in their glasses. 

As Daniel concludes this story he says: In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom (Daniel 1: 20, N.I.V.).

If you were wondering why I chose to title todays devotional, A Decisive Test of Character, it is because it is the daily decisions; daily tests of loyalty to God; and daily choices we make that prepares us for those big challenges that we will inevitably face in our lives. Oh, it might have seemed to some people to be no big deal how these four boys ate or drank. But they had made a commitment to God. Part of that decision meant they treated their bodies as the Temple of the Most High. And it became this seemingly small decision that gave them the opportunity to meet personally with a heathen king where they bore a testimony to the glory of Jehovah.

When writing to the Christians in Rome, the Apostle Paul in encouraging words penned this passage: We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because Gods love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5: 3 5, N.R.S.V). As author Paul W. Powell encourages us to remember, especially in those times of trouble and trial, God is more concerned about our character than our comfort. His goal is not to pamper us physically but to perfect us spiritually. Even when it means passing on the kings dainties and saying, Pass me the veggies, please!

Myself

 

I have to live with myself, and so

I want to be fit for myself to know,

I want to be able, as days go by,

Always to look myself straight in the eye;

I dont want to stand, with setting sun,

And hate myself for the things Ive done.

I dont want to keep on a closet shelf,

A lot of secrets about myself,

And fool myself, as I come and go,

Into thinking that nobody else will know

The kind of a man that I really am;

I dont want to dress up myself in sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,

I want to deserve all mens respect;

But here in the struggle for fame and pelf,

I want to be able to like myself.

I dont want to look at myself and know

That Im bluster and bluff and empty show.

I never can hide myself from me;

I see what others may never see;

I know what others may never know;

I never can fool myself, and so,

Whatever happens, I want to be

Self-respecting and conscience free.

Edgar A. Guest

AFFIRMATION:

Fix the center of my heart in Yourself, O Lord, for only thus will I resist temptation and live according to Your will.

Attributed to Meister Eckart

1260-1327

Prayer

Most loving Lord, give me a steadfast heart, which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart, which no hardship can wear out; an upright heart, which no worthless purpose can ensnare. Give me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know You, diligence to seek You, and a faithfulness that will finally embrace You; through Jesus Christ, my Lord.

Thomas Aquinas

1255-1274

My Guardian

“Be Thou my guardian and my guide,

And hear me when I call;

Let not my slippery footsteps slide,

And hold me lest I fall.

And if I tempted am to sin,

And outward things are strong,

Do Thou, O Lord, keep watch within,

And save my soul from wrong.

Isaac Williams

1802-1865

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus

[email protected]

P. S. Thank you so much for the gifts you send to Transformation Garden which continue to assist our ministry here in the United States and in 192 countries around the world.  100% of your donation goes directly to providing for our daily devotionals and gift bookmarks. Transformation Garden is a non-profit organization so your gift is tax-deductible and you will receive a receipt for any gift you send.sefsef

Many of you have asked how to send a gift to Transformation Garden. You can help support our work by giving a gift through Paypal or you can send your gift to: Transformation Garden, 2675 West SR89A, PMB 1121, Sedona, Arizona 86336. Thank you so much.

Also, if you should happen to miss a devotional for some reason, you can go to www.transformationgarden.com and you will find archived devotionals. We also place the daily devotionals on Facebook so you can find them on that site also.

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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.

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